Army chief arrives in flood-hit Uttarakhand to review rescue operations

Dehradun (Uttarakhand), June 28 (ANI): Chief of Army Staff General Bikram Singh arrived in flood-hit Uttarakhand on Friday, where rescue and rehabilitation operations are underway to save hundreds of stranded persons, even as the meteorological department predicted slight showers.

Received here by senior army and air force officers, General Singh then boarded a helicopter to review rescue operations and also meet victims in other parts of the flood-hit state.

The floods, triggered by heavier than normal and early monsoon rains, have killed at least 822 people and displaced tens of thousands of inhabitants in Uttarakhand state, a popular destination for Hindu pilgrims due to its shrines and temples.

The disaster has been dubbed as 'Himalayan tsunami' by the media due to the torrents of water unleashed in the hilly region, which sent mud and boulders crashing down, burying homes, sweeping away buildings, roads and bridges.

Meanwhile, director of the state's meteorological department, Anand Sharma said that light showers at expected in certain areas of the state.

"Weather forecast, what we are expecting is light to moderate rains around 1 to 10 millimetres in higher reaches of Uttarakhand, specially Uttarkashi, Rudraprayag, Chamoli and upper reaches of Pithoragarh while Dehradun region and surrounding region, we are expecting 10 to 20 millimetres of rainfall, maybe little bit more in some areas," said Sharma.

Meanwhile, the mass cremation of bodies recovered at Kedarnath and other gravely affected areas continued. At least a thousand more are still believed to be missing.

Reportedly, 600 bodies have been recovered from the site of Kedarnath alone although government officials are yet to confirm this figure.

The disposal of corpses is important to eliminate the risk of contaminating the water supply and outbreak of diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera.

Heavy rains over the last few days have hampered rescue operations by the personnel of Indian Air Force and Army besides the paramilitary outfits of NDRF (National Disaster Response Force) and ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police).

It was estimated that around 96,500 people have so far been evacuated by land and air while television channels have been broadcasting dramatic pictures of desperate pilgrims scrambling to board helicopters of Air Force and Army as well as chartered private operators. (ANI)


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